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The Neuroimaging of Vicarious Pain

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

The similarities between self-experienced and vicarious pain have led research to suggest that both experiences may be facilitated by shared neural representations. Indeed, neuroimaging evidence demonstrates an overlap in neural patterns during self- and other-pain. Such comparable brain activity may facilitate an empathic understanding of the current state of the individual in pain by stimulating relevant pain associations in the own sensory, affective and cognitive systems. However, research further shows the distinct contributions of neural activity during vicarious pain processing, in particular in brain regions related to perspective-taking, attention and top-down response regulation.

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